Nugget 226

I will be collecting the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N226) later this morning, and it should be in the post and on its way to members early this afternoon. It should, therefore, be with members by later this week or early next week.

The PDF version is now available online via the Wargame Developments website. All members should now have received the password they need to read the PDF, but if they have lost it or cannot remember it they should contact me.

The philosophy, practice, and practicality of wargames design

One thing that I have never understood is why the creators of wargames rules do not – as a rule – write designer’s notes to go with their rules. Some do (e.g. Frank Chadwick) but others do not, and I find that it is the latter group whose rules I find more difficult to understand. Often you need to ‘get inside the designer’s head’ to understand what they are trying to achieve with a particular game mechanism, and if there are no explanatory notes, this is more guesswork than anything else.

Perhaps it is because I moved from teaching History to teaching Information Communication Technology that I learned to always try to put down on paper some sort of ‘specification’ before beginning the ‘design’ process. It becomes the skeleton onto which I ‘build’ my rules. I also try to make my rule mechanisms self-contained (e.g. a card driven activation system that is suitable for both solo and face-to-face games) so that if it does not work after ‘testing’, I can pull it out and replace it with something that does work.

Finally I always apply what was once termed ‘Cordery’s Rule’ by another member of Wargame Developments; this states that ‘if, after a few game turns, a player does not remember to use a particular rule or game mechanism during a game, and the game has functioned without that rule or game mechanism, then think seriously about removing it’.

I think that wargame design should be a process of reduction NOT expansion; the latter does not lead to better design or more realism … it just leads to confusion!

Some thoughts about designing an operational-level wargame

I have been trying to make a list of all the basic design elements I want to include in my operational-level Eastern Front wargame. So far the list includes (in no particular order):

  • The terrain will be divided into 10cm hexes (i.e. Hexon II);
  • An individual stand will represent a regiment-sized unit or a divisional/corps/army HQ;
  • Stands will be grouped together to form divisions (e.g. three infantry stands, a field artillery stand, and a divisional HQ stand form an infantry division) or to form corps/army assets (e.g. a tank regiment, a medium artillery regiment, a heavy artillery regiment, and a corps/army HQ stand form a corps’ or army’s assets);

What a Russian Rifle Division might look like.

  • Activation cards will be used for each division or group of corps/army assets;
  • Only stands from the same division or group of corps/army assets will be able to occupy the same hex;
  • Each stand will be allocated a combat value based upon its experience, training, and equipment. This combat value – which will be indicated by a numbered magnetic marker – will be degraded during the battle as the result of combat;
  • Each HQ stand will be allocated a morale value for the division or group of corps/army assets it controls. This morale value – which will be indicated by a numbered magnetic marker – will be degraded during the battle as the result of combat;
  • Combat will be hex to hex, with the one stand in a hex – with the support of any other stands from the same division or group of corps/army assets that are in that hex – attacking an enemy stand in another hex;
  • The combat system will use a D12 for German forces and a D10 for all other forces (i.e. Russian and Axis allies);
  • The combat system will be resolved by comparing the attacking stand’s dice score added to the attacking stand’s combat value and any relevant combat factors (e.g. cover, terrain) with the defending stand’s dice score added to the defending stand’s combat value and any relevant combat factors.

This is the starting point for my design; it is my ‘specification’. All I need to do now is to begin the ‘design’ process before proceeding on to ‘implementation’, ‘testing’, and ‘evaluation’.

Nugget 226

I hope to take the latest issue of THE NUGGET to the printers later this morning and I should be able to pick it up on Thursday or Friday. With any luck I hope to get it out in the post by Monday next week, and it should be with members later that week.

I hope to upload the PDF versions of the latest issues of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website over the coming weekend so that members (including e-members) can read it before the printed version arrives in the post.

Canrobert? This Robert can!

Thanks to the fact that the road works that have made my trips to and from work a nightmare for the past two months are now finished, I was able to drive home in just under thirty minutes tonight … about a third of the time it took me one day last week!

Marshal Canrobert

Having an hour extra free time this evening gave me the incentive to make the additional activation and unit cards for the slightly expanded version of SOLFERINO IN THIRTY MINUTES that I and Richard Brooks will be taking to COW (the Conference of Wargamers) in July. As a result I now have a set of activation cards for Marshal Canrobert and unit cards for his French III Corps. All I need to do now is to laminate them and then –as the French say – voila!

A time for reflection

Having finally had a few hours of time to myself, I have been able to think about what project or projects I want to proceed with next.

I have now boiled it down to the following:

  • Doing some further work on SOLFERINO IN THIRTY MINUTES in preparation for the Conference of Wargamers in early July. This will involve making some additional playing pieces so that the French III Corps can be deployed on the battlefield as well as activation cards for Marshal Canrobert, who commanded the III Corps.
  • Unpacking my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm Napoleonic figures from their storage boxes and organising them into units. Once that is done, and any damage they may have suffered is repaired, I will varnish and base them.
  • Finishing the redraft of my much-modified version of the TABLE TOP BATTLES rules by Mike and Joyce Smith so that they can be used to re-fight land battles from the mid-twentieth century. The rules are intended to enable me to fight an operational-level Eastern Front campaign using my existing collection of 20mm MEGABLITZ figures and model vehicles. The individual figure and vehicle bases will represent regiments, and the working title for the rules is OPERATIVNAIA ISKUSSTVA (‘Operational Art’ in Russian).

The joys of blogging

Sitting at my computer, re-reading my own blog entries as well as reading the most recent entries on the blogs that I follow, I realised how much blogging has enhanced my wargaming over recent months.

Firstly, I have come into contact with a lot of other wargamers via the blogging community, and I have found their enthusiasm for all sorts of different types and styles of wargaming very infectious.

Secondly, I find what other wargamers are doing and writing about in their blogs inspiring, and this has helped me to focus on developing projects that would otherwise have remained in the ‘to be done later’ file.

Thirdly, I find the process of writing my blog entries makes me THINK about what I am doing, and this has helped me to DO far more than I would otherwise have achieved.